What is the Best Dose of Nature and Green Exercise for Improving Mental Health? A Multi-Study Analysis

Interdisciplinary Centre for Environment and Society, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Essex, Colchester CO4 3SQ, U.K.
Environmental Science and Technology (Impact Factor: 5.33). 03/2010; 44(10):3947-55. DOI: 10.1021/es903183r
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

Green exercise is activity in the presence of nature. Evidence shows it leads to positive short and long-term health outcomes. This multistudy analysis assessed the best regime of dose(s) of acute exposure to green exercise required to improve self-esteem and mood (indicators of mental health). The research used meta-analysis methodology to analyze 10 UK studies involving 1252 participants. Outcomes were identified through a priori subgroup analyses, and dose-responses were assessed for exercise intensity and exposure duration. Other subgroup analyses included gender, age group, starting health status, and type of habitat. The overall effect size for improved self-esteem was d = 0.46 (CI 0.34-0.59, p < 0.00001) and for mood d = 0.54 (CI 0.38-0.69, p < 0.00001). Dose responses for both intensity and duration showed large benefits from short engagements in green exercise, and then diminishing but still positive returns. Every green environment improved both self-esteem and mood; the presence of water generated greater effects. Both men and women had similar improvements in self-esteem after green exercise, though men showed a difference for mood. Age groups: for self-esteem, the greatest change was in the youngest, with diminishing effects with age; for mood, the least change was in the young and old. The mentally ill had one of the greatest self-esteem improvements. This study confirms that the environment provides an important health service.

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    • "ART is well supported by data from laboratory-based image viewing studies (Berto, 2005; Staats, Kieviet, & Hartig, 2003; van den Berg, Koole, & van der Wulp, 2003) and some field studies (Berman, Jonides, & Kaplan, 2008; Hartig, Evans, Jamner, Davis, & Gärling, 2003; Sonntag-Öström et al., 2014; Tennessen & Cimprich, 1995) showing that attention, measured as performance at cognitive tasks, is better when individuals are exposed to natural rather than urban environments. For SRT, evidence to date suggests that viewing or visiting natural environments can result in better affective outcomes measured through self-reported mood scales (Bowler et al., 2010; Lee et al., 2011; Tsunetsugu et al., 2013; Tyrväinen et al., 2014), perhaps more so when the natural environment contains water, such as a river, lake or coast (Barton & Pretty, 2010). "
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    • "Researchers tend to agree , that urban green spaces have a ( Escobedo , Kroeger , & Wagner , 2011; Nowak , Crane , & Stevens , 2006 ), reducing noise ( Pathak , Tripathi , & Mishra , 2011 ) , regulating temperature ( Gabriel & Endlicher , 2011 ; Hamada & Ohta , 2010 ) , and have the potential to promote and preserve biodiversity ( Alvey , 2006 ; Kowarik , 2011 ) . Urban green spaces also have been shown to have a positive effect on physical and mental health ( Barton & Pretty , 2010 ; Bowler , Buyung - Ali , Knight , & Pullin , 2010 ; Grahn & Stigsdotter , 2010 ; Lee & Maheswaran , 2011 ; Tzoulas et al . , 2007 ; R S Ulrich , 1984 ; van den Berg , Maas , Verheij , & Groenewegen , 2010 ) and provide a place for recreational ( Arnberger , 2006 ) or health promoting activities ( Babey , Hastert , Yu , & Brown , 2008 ; Cohen et al . "
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    • "In terms of psychological resilience, no " pure " nearby outdoor recreation variable but only an index variable comprehending (leisure time spent for) outdoor recreation in all spatial scales (green around the house, recreation area outside the region) contributed to explanation of variance (1.5% out of an overall 12.9%). These long-term effects are considerably lower than the short-term effects of visits to natural environments on emotional well-being that have been measured in a number of experimental studies (Barton & Pretty, 2010; Bowler et al., 2010; Martens et al., 2011), in which the confounding variables are implicitly controlled. "
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    ABSTRACT: With the shift to a service based society, providing opportunities for outdoor recreation that enables mental and physiological self-regulation has become an increasingly important landscape function. Recent research has provided considerable evidence that visits to near-natural everyday landscapes promote psychological and physical health. However, little is so far known about the effects of people’s regular outdoor recreation in their local natural environment on their well-being and, in particular, on their psychological resilience. In our project we address this research gap by investigating nearby outdoor recreation behaviour in three urbanized regions in Switzerland, each of which has a different predominant culture and language (German, French and Italian speaking). A standardized questionnaire was sent to a random sample of residents (N=1200) in each region. Stepwise regression supported the hypothesis that regular nearby outdoor recreation has a significant but rather marginal effect on respondents’ reported well-being and their psychological resilience, even when systematically controlled. However, similar effect sizes, in particular in terms of psychological resilience, were found with other leisure activities. More generally, we found that well-being and psychological resilience were influenced by different factors, and that increasing psychological resilience mainly required a long duration of recreation or leisure activities.
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